Syracuse rides early attack to 2-0 home win over Duke, advances to ACC tournament semifinals

first_img Published on November 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+ Twenty-five seconds into the game, Duke’s Brody Huitema headed the ball off the crossbar.Syracuse goalkeeper Alex Bono was frozen in place and the Orange was on the back foot before it could even get possession of the ball.“We looked like we were a bit nervy that first five minutes,” head coach Ian McIntyre said.But the nerves subsided and SU responded with two first-half goals, one from forward Alex Halis and one from midfielder Nick Perea, to jump out to a two-goal lead before the break. The early cushion paced No. 1 Syracuse (15-2-1, 5-2-1 Atlantic Coast) to a 2-0 win over seventh-seeded Duke (9-9-1, 4-4) in the ACC tournament quarterfinals in front of a record 2,533 fans at SU Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon.“It really forced them to kind of change the way they wanted to play,” McIntyre said of putting the Blue Devils in an early hole. “They had to meet us a little higher up.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe early blitzkrieg may not have been possible, though, if it weren’t for McIntyre inserting Halis into the starting lineup for only the second time this season, and not starting forward Emil Ekblom for the first time in his 36-game career.Halis verified McIntyre’s decision by winning a 50-50 ball off a Julian Buescher cross at the edge of the 6-yard box less than 10 minutes in. The sophomore toed the ball over Duke goalkeeper Wilson Fisher and into the top of the net to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.He threw his hands up in the air and ran to the student section behind the goal, hugging a fan before celebrating with his teammates.“I can’t explain the feeling,” Halis said. “It was good to get that off my back. I know I said that earlier in the season, but postseason, it felt good.”The Orange continued to pepper Fisher throughout the half, as midfielder Liam Callahan, forward Chris Nanco and Halis were all denied chances from point-blank range.The mass of SU students behind the goal repeatedly gasped, but it didn’t materialize into an all-out celebration as the Orange couldn’t break through. McIntyre said that on a different day, it could’ve been a “3” or a “4” on the SU scoreboard with the amount of chances his side had in the first half.But with just less than 13 minutes remaining in the frame, the hosts padded their lead after midfielder Oyvind Alseth curled a high cross from in front of the Duke bench. It met the foot of Callahan beyond the left post on the goal line, and he one-timed a cross to a wide-open Perea, who volleyed it home from the doorstep to give the hosts insurance.“You get a rush,” Perea said of scoring in front of a record crowd.As the Orange has repeatedly done with one- and two-goal leads all year, it buckled down. Bono and the back three were a brick wall throughout the entirety of the second half to secure the team’s first postseason win in almost two years.And while Duke senior Matt Slotnick cried in his teammates’ arms after the buzzer sounded, the Syracuse bench poured onto the field and will get a chance at revenge against sixth-seeded Louisville in Cary, North Carolina next Friday.Said Halis after the game: “I have goosebumps right now.” Commentslast_img

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